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Friday, November 10, 2006


Meeting and Greeting
Greet each person with a quick, light handshake (not a bone crusher or pumper), and use another handshake on departure. Friends and family will kiss each other on the cheeks (left and then right); you shouldn't initiate this, but be prepared to respond if someone greets you in this way (la bise). Wait for a woman to offer her hand first. When in doubt, shake hands.

The French often introduce themselves by stating their surname followed by their first name. They rearely smile on first meeting; this is not rude or standoffish, merely a more dignified and polite way of greeting. Business culture is especially formal in this respect.

Be prompt for appointments; punctuality is importnat.

The French are polite and cultured and they love language, so if you take the time to leave a few phrases and pronounce them correctly you will find French people very helpful. If you speak French incorrectly, you may be met with a shrug of apparent incomprehension. For instance, if you ask for "un baguette", it may seem obvious what you want, but a shopkeeper may appear to comprehend only once he has corrected your French-"Ah...une baguette".

Only use first name terms when invited. It is customary to address your elders with Monsieur or Madame. When entering a restaurant, shop or hotel, greet by saying "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur" or "Au revoir"
when you leave . Always say "Pardon" when you bump into someone on the street.

Being pushy will get you nowhere in France; you will simply be ignored. Say the magic words "Excusez moi de vous derangez, Monsieur, mais j'ai un petit probleme...." ("Pardon me for disturbing you sir, but I have a small problem") and most people will be willing to help.

Don't keep smiling making jokes, and being overly friendly too soon; you will gain more trust and respect if you are restrained and dignified at first. Friendship and trust are built slowly; over familiarity is considered superficial and is viewed with distrust.

In conversation (especailly wit bureaucrats and officials), cool logic will produce better results than hyperbole or emotional appeals. You will be judged on your intellect and your ability to discuss ideas. Business discussions are usually very protracted, and ever option is carefully and seriously scrutinized. French red tape is legendary. The French have a habit of politely restatin their position so that a compromise can seem impossible.

"Merci" means "Thank you", but when it is used in reply to a question, such as "Would you like some more?" it means "No, thank you". A response of "S'il vous plait" means "Yes". If you please.

Bread or breadsticks are an accompaniment to the main meal, so don't start nibbling until the food arrives.

Meals consists of many courses with smaller portions, so pace yourself and don't ask for seconds.

Attract a waiter's attention by tipping your head back silightly sayin "Monsieur", never snap your fingers.

Donot eat food with your fingers (even sandwiches). Always use a knife and fork. Fruit should be peeled with knife and eaten with a fork.

In a bar, take a seat and wait to be served a drink. If you buy a drink from the bar, it is cheaper, but you are expected to stay there to drink it.

Ice will only be added to your drink on request.

Don't help yourself to wine; your host or a wine waiter should ensure your glass is filled regularly. Expect the wine to change for each course.

Smoking is allowed in public places. Even in a restaurant you may see people smoking beneath the NO SMOKING sign.

Good posture is very important and a sign of class. Keep yiur hands out of your pockets, don't slouch or chew gum, don't point with your whole hand, and don't use the OK sign (it means "zero" in France).

Don't browse through newspapers and magazines at a newstand. If yoy want to read them, but them.

Dress conservatively in good quality, stylish clothes. Avoid wearing shorts unless you want to stand out as a tourist. Appearance metter; your social status is reflected by what you wear and how you wear it. Women never wear stocking in the summer.

Since French business culture is quite formal, gifts should be carefully chosen to avoid embarassing overfamiliarity. Don't incoued your business card.

When you are invited to a French home, don't bring wine - your host will have chose a wine especially to complement the menu. An odd number of flowers (except chrysanthemums and carnations, which are unlucky, or red roses which are romantic) or quality chocolates are acceptable gifts.


Punctuality is fairly flexible. If you are a newcomer to Italy, try to arrive on time, but be prepared to wait for your Italian counterparts. Greet with a firm handshake and direct eye contact, and say "Buon giorno" ("good day") in the morning and "Buona sera" ("good evening") in the ate afternoon and evening. Typically, you will be introduced to older people first (they are greatly respected in this culture). When you know someone better, you may embrace or kiss on both cheeks. Shake hands again with everyone in the group upon departure.

Only use first names, when invited to do so. In business it is common for colleagues who have worked together for several years to still address each other using surnames.

Titles are very important and show respect; use Signore (Mr.) or Signora (Mrs.) plus the family name (rather than the first names.)

When answering the phone, say "Pronto", which means "ready", not "Buon giorno".

Itlaians use a repertoire of gesturing when they are speaking, and conversations are often very animated, noisy and emotional. A passionate and eloquent speech will produce better results than cold reasoning as Italians are guided by their emotions rather than by their intellect and rules. This means they can be quite flexible and inventive when problem solving although business dealings are usually very protracted to allow friendship and trust to build.

Breakfast is very small; lunch is usally the main meal fo the day, and dinner is eaten very late. Cappuccino is a morning drink. After about 11a.m. Italians switch to espresso.

Alcohol is rarely drunk on its own for pleasure. Wine should be sipped slowly, and usually only as an accompaniment to a meal or drunk with friends in the evening. Italians pride themselves on being able to hold their liquor; getting drunk is an error, not an aim.

Sitting down to drink coffee is much more expensive than standing at the bar, which is why you will often see a crowd of Italians crowded at the bar drinking espresso.

When you buy a coffee or ice cream (gelato), you usually pay first, and then take the recipt and show it to the server.

It is polite to stay at the table until the meal is finished, rather than visiting the bathroom during the meal.

Don't mop up sauce or olive oil with your bread. You may use it to gather a little sauce, but not to wipe the plate clean.

Eating well is a compliment to your hosts, so east as much as you can and expect to be offered seconds and thirds.

Don't use a spoon to eat your pasta, Twirl it around your fork, using the side of the bowl if necessary.

Don't slurp up spaghetti.

Italians never cut lettuce. They fold it into a small parcel with their knife and fork.

Italians have an expression, bella figura, which refers to the ability to conduct oneself with dignity, pride and confidence in public. Be aware of the image that you are presenting to those around you. It will be noticed.

Lining up is optional. with much pushing and line-jumping.

There are feral cats all over Italy, especially in Rome. Don't approach them, they are wild animals and may carry disease.

If you place your hand on yur stomach and make a face , it means you dislike someone or something. Rubbing your chin with your fingers and then flicking them forward ia an expression of anger or frustration.

Chewing gum is considered vulgar. Smoking on the other hand, is widespread, even in nonsmoking sections in restaurants.

When it Italy wear the best shoes you can affors and keep them well polished. Dress in good quality, stylish clothes (not shorts) Appearance matter; your social status is reflected by what you wear and how you wear it.

Both men and women wear a lot of accessories, such as jewelry; expensive watches, and ties. Women tend to wear darker colors and accessorize with flashes of color. They don't wear stocking in the summer. Bith sexes wear cologne or perfume.

In business, only give agift if you have already recived one; otherwise, it might be interpreted as a bribe. Open any gifts immediately.

When you are invited to someone's home, an odd number of flowers (except chrysanthemums, carnations or red roses) or quality chocolates are acceptable gifts.


Mexicans place much importance on personal and family relationshps, so trust and respect, especially in business, are built up by your abilioty to interact with others, not by your credentials.

A Mexican handshake is a brisk, firm snap. Say "Buenos dias/tardes/noches" for "Good morning/afternoon/evening or night" or "Hola, como estas", (Hi, how are you?")

Friends greet each other with a touch on the elbow or a full-on abrazo, which is a bear hug with much backslapping. Don't be surprised if someone gives you a heaty abrazo after only the second meeting. Mexicans are very friendly.

Winking and whistling (called piripo) is quite common between men and women on meeting. Cheek-kissing is also popular.

Always use Senor(Mr.) and Senora (Mrs.) or Senorita (Miss) plus the paternal family name until you are invited to switch to first names.

Punctuality is very flexible in Mexico. It is common to arrive half an hour late for social events. The main adjustment you will have to make will be adapting to the slow pace of life.

Spanish is the main language, but about a third of the population also (and sometimes exclusively) speaks the indigenous Indian language of the Aztecs and Maya. Any attempt to speak Spanish, however inadequate will be appreciated.

Familiarize yourself with the concept of manana, which means "Tomorrow" and is a habitual response to questions that require a defintied answer. If you want to know when your car will be fixed, it will alwayd be manana This can seem like stalling or laziness, but actually Mexicans are reluctant to disappoint. If you ask someone for directions, they woul rather send you in the wrong direction than offer no help at all. Maybe can often means no.

If you hear someone saying "psssst-pssst", they are trying to get your attention, this is not considered rude.

When paying in shops and restaurants, always place cash or credit cards into the hand of the person who is serving you. It is rude to place in on the counter.

Personal space is small. Mexicans stand close so don't back away; they will think you are being shy and quickly close the gap again. Or, worse, they will think you are being unfriendly.

If you are invited to someon's fome, don't discuss business unless the subject is raised.

It is respectful to keep eye contact short and infrequent, especailly with your elders. Holding a stare is confrontational, as is standing with your hands in your hips.

Business dress is conservative, with dark suits for men and smart, feminie skirts and blouses along with nylons and high heels for women.

Gift giving is not an integral part of Mexican business culture, but a small gift is not inappropirate. However, if a businessman offers a gift to a woman, he should say it is from his sister or his wife to avoid potential embarrassment.

Bring a small gift when you are invited to someone's house is optional. Avoid red or yellow flowers (according to Mexican folklore, the former cast spells, the latter signify death); also avoid silverware from another country, as Mexican silver is world-famous.


Punctuality is failry flexible. If you are a new comer to Greece, try to to arrive on time, but be prepared to wait for your Greek counterparts. Social events often begin up to an hour late and are open ended.

Greet with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. When you know someone better you may embrace or kiss on both cheeks. You will typically be introduced to older people firs (tyey are greatly respected in this culture), followed by men and then women. Shake hands again with everyone in the group upon departure.

Titles are very important and respectful. Use Keereeoss(Mr.) and Keereeah (Mrs), plus the family name (rather than first names).

Greeks are very friendly and gregarious and will talk very openly about themselves and ask all sorts of personal questions. It is okey for you to reciprocate and ask your host similar questions. Anger isn't always expressed directly; it might be vented with an ironic smile or a laugh.

The drinking age in Greece is 16.

In many rstaurants you are allowed (and even encouraged) to visit the kitchen to see how the foos is being prepared and to decide what you would like to order. "Tea eeneh aftoe?" means "What is this?".

Groupd of diners often order many communal dishes, which are placed on the table for everyone to help themselves. If you want more food, you many order it at any time during the meal, rather than only at the beginning. Greek waiters will leave you to enjoy your meal without continually returning to check that everything is okay. It is up to you to attract the waiter's attention if you need service.

Smoking during meals is not unheard of in Greece, although you should ask permission before lighting up.

In a Greek home, expect to be offered many seconds and thirs at meals. Eating well is a compliment to your hosts. If you are dining out, your host will usually pay the whole bill.

The most common toast is "Kalymata" ("Good health").

Greeks never rush their coffee, it is savored for at least half an hour. Frappe (chilled coffee) is very popular.

When entering a Greek shop or taverna, always acknowledge the owner with "Kalimera". The OK sign is considered a rude gesture with obscene connotations.

Greeks say NO with an upward nod and YES by tilting the head from side to side. More con-fusing still, the Greek for YES is Nai and YES is Oci.

If you compliment someone, you may see them opuff breath through their lips. This gesture wards off the jealousy of the "evil eye" (Greeks are very superstitious).

Greek men everywhere enjoy playing Tavli (backgammon), often very loudly and with good-natured taunting and banter.

In most toilets, paper goes in a special bin insted of being flused away, to avoid blocking the pipes.

Business dress is conservative and formal, even during the summer; otherwise, dress is casual and comfortable, simple and elegant.

Greek people are very generous. Don't make a big display of admiring an object or an ornament, or your host may feel obliged to give it to you.

When you are invited to a Greek home, make a big fuss over the children. Greece is a very child oriented culture, so don't exclude them when talking to the adults.


Being ounctual is not a priority. Arriving even 15 minutes late wil not be considered a serious breach of etiguette. Sometinmes lateness can feel like the national pastime.

When in business relationships are formed, you are there for the long haul. You will be expected to show loyalty and commitment rather than taking the money and running. Business is usally done face to face rahter than over the phone or by e-mail, and it usually takes many appointment to broker a deal.

Brazilians touch a lot, and perosnal space is very small. A first meeting will involve a handshake with sustained eye contact, but once you become more familiar, you may receive a quick hug and a back slap from a man, while women exchange air kisses to each cheel between one and four times while shaking hands. Married women more commonly use two kisses; single women generall use three.

Say "Oi" for "Hi" or "Ciao" for "Bye".

In business circles, shake hands with everyone in the group upon departure.

The national language is Portugeuse. Don't speak Spanish unless you want to offend someone.

Conversation may get quite loud and animated with much gesturing. Expect a lot of noise at restaurants, cinemas, and theatres. Be yourself and talk tin your normal voice; don't feel like you have to increase the volume and tempo to fit in, although if you do raise your vocie, it isn't a problem. But always maintain good eye contact.

If you're stuck for conversation (which is unlikely, because Brazilian are so gregarious and friendly), talk about futebol, the national obsession. Avoid taking about politics or Brazil archrival, Argentina.

Don't be surprised if you receive an invitation to the home of an acquaintaice.

Brazilians are very optimistic and believe that it is possible to find a solution to any problem. This is called Brazilian jeito; sometimes it refers to bribery, but often it excpresses a positive outlook that there is always a way.

Always use a knife and fork, even for finger foods, including sandwiches, fruit and pizza.

Brazilian tend to eat with the fork, while the knife sits with the blade resting on the plate and the handle on the table when it is not being used.

Keep your elbows off the table.

Smoking is not allowed in many public places.

Don't eat in public places or on the street. Brazilians don't like eatingt on the go. They prefer to eat slowly, so meals usually last a long time. Brazilians take their families out to dinner at all hours (dinner starts late), and children are commin in restaurants in the evening.

Expect a lot of physical contact - hugs, backslaps and arm-touching.

Yawning or stretching in public is rude.

If someone flicks his fingers underneath his chin, it means "I don't know" or "I don't understand". Don't use the OK hand gesture which is considered a rude gesture with obscene connotations.

Brazilian begin socializing late in the evening with many people not going out until 11pm. Dinner parties may easily last to 2am and beyond. If you're invited to a party, it will usually be at a club rather than at someone's home. Arrive about 15 minutes late.

Wear lightweight, quality clothes. A suit should be dark, and ties should bne well-made and conservative. Women shoukd aim for simple elegance with a minimal amount of makeup.

Make sure that gifts aren't black or purple, these are colors of moruning. Avoid sharp gifts such as letter openers, scissors or knives, which mean you wish to end a relationship. Small electronic items are more popular than wallets, perfume or jewelry.


In business, initial greetings are formal, with handshake and direct eye contact while saying "Buenos dias/tardes/noches" for "Good morning/afternoon/evening or night". Shaking hands upn departure is popular, though not essential.

Socially, male friends often enjoy and abrazo(a bear hug with much backslapping), whole women usually kiss men and women on both cheeks.

Personal space is small. Spaniards like to get up close and make frequent physical contact (pats and slaps), so don't back away; they will think you are being shy and quickly close the gap again. Or, worse, tehy will think you are being unfriendly.

Spain has one of the most flexible attitudes toward time in the world. Trains and buses seems to write their own timetables, and it is common to arrive half an hour late for social events. Spanish bureaucracy - in fact, anything involving documentation - is always infuriatingly prolonged. However, if you want to enjoy your visit, go with the flow rather than fighting this slow pace of life, because you'll never change it.

The Spanish is gregarious, livelym, and immediately friendly. They place much importance on personal and family relationships, so trust and respect, especially in business are built up by your company of others, not by your credentials or qualifications. Spaniards tends to downplay their achievements and dislike those who try too hard or show off.

Conversatin is often loud and very animated, with numerous hand gestures as signs of anger. Good natured banter is okay as long as you don't insult Spanish culture or highlight racial stereotypes. Familiarize yourself with the concept of manana, which means "tomorrow" and is a habitual response to questions thar require a definite answers\. If you want to know when your car will be fixed, it will always be "manana". This can seem like laziness, but actually Spaniards never like to be seen as trying too hard.

When dining out in the evening, Spaniards socialize and eat leate,a nd they bring their children with them, it is not uncommon to book a table for 10pm and many of the bars and clubs don't liven up until midnight.

For formal meals, the host and hostess sit at opposite ends of the table, wtih the guests of honor of the opposite sex placed to their right.

To make a toast, raise your glass and say "Salud"

Clear your plate, leaving food is considered wasteful.

Public dispalys of affection are very common and acceptable among the younger generation, but much like in other European countries, you rarely see older people being overtly affectionate in public.

To beckon someone in Spain, extend your arm with your palm downward and wriggle your fingers toward yourself.

Smoking is widespread, and it is difficult to escape the smoke wherever there are groups of people around, even at the dinner table.

Smoking is widespread, and it is difficult to escape the smoke wherever there are groups of people around, even at the dinner table.

If you need to use the bathroom, it is acceptable to use the facilities in a cafe or bar without buying a drink. The men's room is labeled "Caballeros" and the women's room is labeled "Senoras"

Yawning and stretching in public is rude.

Spaniards love taking walks, and there is a tradition of taking a stroll (paseo) before dinner. The street are full of people of all ages casually working up an appetite.

Older women wear dresses, but younger women also wear pants, although jeans are not as ubiquitous as in the U.S.A. and other parts of Europe. Leather clothes and accessories are very popular. Only tourists wear shorts or sweatpants. Designer brand names and high quality elegant clothing are appreciated.

The mantilla is a traditional black lightweight lace or silk scarf women worn over the head and shoulders by older Spanish women on special occasions, along with a rigid headpiece called a "peineta".

GIFTS AND TIPS Gifts are always opened infront of the giver. If you are invited to a Spanish home, bring a small gift. such as chocolates or flowers.


(Source: Abstracted from the book: BEHAVE YOURSELF: Essential Guide to International Etiquette by: Michael Powell)
posted by infraternam meam @ 10:45 PM  
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